Running a marathon – the famed 26.2 – is a huge deal. Not everyone can do it, and it takes a lot of perseverance, hard work and a vision. If you're a casual runner considering taking on your first marathon, here are some tips for you to get started and ready to rock it:
Believe it or not, there's actually a lot to do before you begin marathon training. Here are some of the steps that will see you on your way to marathon completion:
- Check with your doctor to get the green light for the vigorous training that running a marathon requires.
- Get fitted for good running shoes. A specialist at a fitness store can watch you walk and run, and by examining your gait, he or she will be able to help you decide which pair of shoes is right for you. Bring in your old running shoes as well – some experts like to examine the wear patterns.
- Get your other gear. Talk to fitness experts at a specialty running store, or ask around with friends who are hardcore runners. They can recommend the best socks, shorts or tights and other products and materials that eliminate chafing and will keep you cool (or warm) during your runs.
- Schedule your runs. Being consistent is important in marathon training, so before you begin, make sure you have a set time each day for running, lifting, stretching and everything that marathon prep entails.
- Learn about proper nutrition and hydration, and begin practicing it right away. You can find plenty of information online or consult with other runners to see what they do. Consider adding sports drinks, complex carbs and protein meal replacements – like Naturade Total Soy – to give your performance diet a boost.
Realize that you need to follow a training plan that is quite regimented, but that it's important to deviate from the plan if you have an injury or are not feeling 100 percent. Here are some basic training tips:
- Keep a training log and record your distance, times and how you feel each day you run. You should also monitor your heart rate each morning before running and keep it in your training log. You'll have a baseline and will know that if your heart rate spikes, it might be time to relax the workout a bit.
- Run three or four days per week. One day should be focused on distance, two should be focused on speed and one should be a recovery day where you take it easy.
- Consider adding two days of strength training per week, which can include yoga, Pilates, weight-training or something similar.
- You should increase your distance by no more than 10 percent each week. The gradual increase is important to prevent injury. On each third or fourth week, cut back on your miles for that week.
- Give yourself at least one day per week to do no running.
- Add cross-training like cycling, rowing or swimming to your routine. You should do these activities for only 45 minutes up to two times per week.
Many of us spend a lot of time thinking about physical health in general, and we mostly talk about it in terms of "staying fit" and "losing weight." But there are other reasons to exercise consistently, such as for boosting your mental health or preventing future injuries. One very important reason to stay active and exercise in certain ways is to promote bone health and ensure that our muscles can support healthy and strong joints to prevent arthritis, osteoarthritis and other types of pain.
Knees are the joints most commonly affected as we age, but other areas commonly affected are hips, shoulders and ankles. The goal of exercising for joint health is to do strength training, which strengthens the muscles surrounding the joints and promotes stability and balance. Here are some good exercises for joint health:
- Squats strengthen the muscles around your knee and hip joints. To do one properly, stand with your feet hip-width apart. Bend at your knees, lower your hips, keep your stomach pulled in tight and your body straight. Then come back up.
- Do yoga, tai chi or Pilates to strengthen your muscles in a low-impact way.
- Strengthen your hip muscles by doing standing side leg lifts. Stand straight, holding the back of a chair if necessary. While keeping your hips and shoulders facing straight, lift your leg to the side, do 10 to 15 reps and holding each for five seconds.
- Swimming is an excellent low-impact exercise with great cardio benefits. You can boost muscle strength without hurting your joints.
Aside from exercising, you can maintain joint health by eating well, keeping a healthy weight, stretching and avoiding too many sedentary activities. You can also try a supplement for joint health like Naturade FlexAid Advanced Joint Formula, which contains natural ingredients for flexibility, mobility and joint comfort, including vitamin D3, glucosamine and collagen. It also contains Univestin®, which has Cutch Tree and Chinese Skullcap extracts.
On November 7, the FDA announced that partially hydrogenated oils, which are responsible for trans fats, are not safe as a food product. After a 60-day comment period, it seems likely that makers of processed foods will be required to eliminate the use of all trans fats by a certain date.
The danger of these artificial products, which are often used to make processed foods last longer, is that not only do they raise your LDL levels – or bad cholesterol – but they also lower the HDL – the body's good cholesterol. Researchers have found that aside from having absolutely no nutritional value, trans fats – due to their effects on cholesterol – can cause the build up of plaque in the arteries, leading to coronary heart disease, blood clots, heart attack and other very serious cardiovascular issues.
Thankfully, trans fats have become minimized in American diets over the years as awareness of their dangers has grown. Trans fats information was required in 2006 to be on all food labels. The FDA reports that the average American's consumption of trans fats per day has decreased from 4.6 grams in 2003 to 1 gram in 2012.
Still, food producers often switch from trans fats to saturated fats, like palm kernel, palm and coconut oils, which are not considered healthy but rather a lesser evil than saturated fats. On the other hand, monounsaturated fats, which are found in peanut, olive and canola oils, are healthier options.
It's important to read the nutrition label on any foods that you buy. Here are the processed foods in which you will often find trans fats – at least for the time being:
- Frozen pizzas
- Microwave popcorn
- Processed desserts
- Coffee creamer
You've probably never heard of bromelain before – most people haven't. But bromelain might do some pretty cool things, so you'll likely want to learn more.
Bromelain is an enzyme extracted from the stem and in the juice of a pineapple, though it is found in all parts of that juicy tropical fruit. Pineapple has been used in Central and South America for hundreds of years as a treatment for indigestion and inflammation. One of the biggest insights that researchers have gathered about bromelain is that it might reduce inflammation in the body due to infection.
Here are some of the other things that bromelain might be good for:
- Treating swelling in the sinuses and nose, ear and throat after surgery or trauma to those areas.
- Potentially removing dead tissue from very serious burns.
- Soothing coughs and reducing nasal mucus and inflammation in the sinuses due to hay fever.
- Treating arthritis and osteoarthritis when used in combination with rutin and trypsin.
- Possibly killing some viruses and bacteria, though more research is needed.
- Curbing effects of ulcerative colitis and other inflammatory bowel issues.
Bromelain might also be effective in preventing muscle soreness immediately after exercise. If you're interested in trying it, you can find bromelain in Naturade 100% Whey protein booster.
Hemp is a plant with many uses,and it is found in products such as diapers, canvas, biodegradable plastics, socks, fiberboard, soap and cosmetics. The seeds from the hemp plant – called cannabis sativa – are very nutritious. In fact, hemp seeds have one of the highest amount of proteins of any food – only soy has more.
Hemp is a complete protein, meaning it contains all eight essential amino acids that are sufficient to meet our bodies' protein needs. Additionally, hemp is easy to digest because it has the globular proteins albumin and edestin that dissolve easily. As if these reasons weren't enough to include hempseed proteins into your diet, they also are high in omega-3 and 6 fatty acids – fats that are important for heart and brain health. While red meat and dairy products are good sources of protein as well, they can be too high in saturated fat. In contrast, hemp has very low levels of saturated fat and is a great option for vegetarians and vegans to get sufficient protein and other nutrients in their diets.
Finally, hemp protein is sustainable. It grows easily in many environments, and it grows tall very quickly, choking out weeds. Thus, there is no need to use pesticides on hemp products. Compared to other sources of protein like animals, soy and other crops, hemp protein is less environmentally damaging and more cost-friendly.
If you're considering trying out hemp seed as a sustainable and highly nutritious protein source, one good way to start is buy trying Naturade's VeganSmart All-In-One Nutritional Shake, which contains hemp seed as just one non-GMO plant-based protein in its complete protein blend. VeganSmart is gluten-, cholesterol-, trans fat- and dairy-free and it contains probiotics and digestive enzymes for gastrointestinal health.
A food allergy is when the body's immune system is triggered to produce an abnormal response upon the ingestion of certain foods. These responses can range from the annoying, like an itchy mouth or hives, to the more troubling and sometimes life-threatening, like vomiting, diarrhea, trouble breathing and tightening in the throat, and drop in blood pressure.
About 5 percent of the U.S. population has food allergies, and 90 percent of all food allergies are due to these eight foods:
- tree nuts
While children often grow out of their milk and egg allergies, these and other allergies can persist into adulthood. For adults engaged in fitness who require a lot of protein for muscle-building, this can be difficult to do with allergies to animal proteins like milk, eggs, shellfish and fish. For example, people with milk allergies cannot enjoy traditional protein shakes made with whey and casein, which are two proteins from milk. Soy is another very common cause of allergies that can make things difficult because soy is in so many of our foods today.
However, if you are allergic to one or more animal products or soy, this doesn't mean you can't enjoy a protein shake. Instead of whey or soy protein powders, choose one made of other vegetable proteins. Naturade offers two excellent dairy- and soy-free options, including VeganSmart All-In-One Nutritional Shake and Naturade Pea Protein.
VeganSmart is all-natural and gluten-free. It contains 20 grams of non-GMO protein, 6 grams of dietary fiber, probiotics, heart-healthy omega-3s and 22 vitamins and minerals.
Naturade's Pea Protein gets its protein boost from yellow split peas, which are also an excellent source of fiber. It is gluten-, cholesterol- and GMO-free and contains nothing artificial.
Whether it's the sign of a still-struggling economy, an increased appreciation for physical fitness or concern over environmental destruction, people in cities across the U.S. are increasingly turning to biking for more than just recreation. According to data from The League of American Cyclists, between 2000 and 2011, bicycle commuting rose by 47 percent!
And it turns out the city governments are getting on board too. Both Chicago and New York City recently implemented bike-sharing programs that have seen pretty solid success with only a few setbacks.
Of course, some cities are more bike-friendly than others, which includes measures like the number of protected bike lines, trails and bike-only streets as well as the availability of bike shops, racks and service stations. In no particular order, here are some of the cities both large and small that have been consistently named as some of the country's most bike-friendly cities:
- Portland, Ore.: Portland's bike culture – which was established long before that of other cities due to some excellent infrastructure – is alive and well. An impressive 8 percent of citizens use bikes as their primary form of public transport, while 10 percent use it as a secondary form. Portland also hosts various biking events and races each year. It has 65 miles of bike paths, 175 miles of bike lanes and almost 30 miles of low-traffic biking boulevards.
- Minneapolis: Minneapolis really pampers its cyclists with indoor bike parking and on- and off-street bike facilities to make sure that residents continue to enjoy the city's 120 miles of biking facilities both on-street and off. The cities flat terrain is likely a boon for bicycling enthusiasts.
- San Francisco: Since 1973, the City by the Bay has had one of the highest percentages of commuters on bike. On its 2011 Bike to Work Day, a whopping 75 percent of traffic on the busy Market Street thoroughfare downtown consisted of cyclists. San Francisco also has commuting incentives for those who take the Caltrain from the suburbs with their bikes in tow and then hop on their bikes upon getting off the train to cycle the rest of the way to work.
- Chicago: In total, the city of Chicago has more than 300 miles of bikeways, which include on-street bike and shared lanes. Plus, the city has a lakefront trail that stretches 18.5 miles along Lake Michigan. You can bike from nearly the north end of the city to the south without having to share space with automobile traffic.
- Washington, D.C.: The District was the first big city to implement a bike sharing program, which has more than 1,200 bicycles at 140 stations around the city and nearby Arlington. The biking community isn't as strong here as in other major cities, but all types of people bike here. The city has 11 miles of bicycle lanes and 10 miles of signed bike routes.
- Madison, Wis.: This college town, home to the University of Wisconsin, is one of the most bike-friendly around. At one point, the city recorded nearly 11,000 bike trips through the downtown area per day during peak biking season.
- New York City: With its brand new bike-sharing program, NYC has become a much more bike-friendly city. NYC has a great network of car-free trails and paths, including one that runs several miles along the length of Manhattan and the Hudson River. Also, massive Central Park is bicycle-friendly and car-free!
- Boulder, Colo.: Beautiful Boulder is surrounded by 120 miles of trails, and a whopping 95 percent of its main streets are bike-friendly. This must be at least part of the reason that 10.5 percent of Boulder's residents bike to work.
Adults often do yoga to build muscle strength, find their centers, develop inner calm and reduce stress. Many experts suggest that yoga positions can also have similar benefits for children. In today's world, parents and schools often put a lot of pressure on children to succeed at younger ages, and with instant access to technology and the rapid spread of using laptops and other devices in classrooms, it seems that children's minds are always active and their bodies are always on the go.
If you have kids, you should know that most experts agree that modified yoga positions – excluding hot yoga – can be good for their minds and bodies. Here are some recognized benefits of yoga as well some starting positions for children:
Benefits of yoga for kids
- Yoga is great for family time. Your young children might see you doing yoga and want to join in, or maybe you'd like to make yoga part of your morning or before-bed routine. This calm, meditative practice can be a good way for you to spend quality time with your kids during the busy weekdays.
- Yoga can calm children who are hyperactive are anxious, allowing them to appreciate relaxing breathing techniques and quiet movement.
- Some researchers believe that yoga helps children manage stress by learning to quiet their minds.
- It teaches children about their bodies and how to be the "boss of their bodies." This encourages self-control and self-awareness.
- Telling children that yoga is fun and good for them is a way to successfully encourage them to care for themselves.
- Yoga is good for children physically, as it involves a warm-up and postures that help them develop balance.
- Partner poses can make yoga more fun and encourage working together.
Yoga for kids
- To begin, let your child pick out his or her own yoga mat and a pillow or stuffed animal that is used only during yoga.
- Make yoga more fun by choosing animal-named poses or renaming ones to make them more exciting for kids.
- Some regular poses that are generally easy for children include tree, cat, cow and downward dog poses.
- If you do a regular yoga routine that has more difficult poses, you can look online to find ways to easily modify them for kids.
- Other yoga positions that children will enjoy include airplane pose, which begins easily with mountain and encourages balance. Frog, star, upward-facing dog, happy baby, child's pose and others, can all be found on the Namaste Kids website.
- Keep in mind that children are very flexible but don't often have much strength, so choose appropriate poses.
- Don't be serious the entire time – make sure to laugh!
Winter is the perfect time to jump on the kettlebell bandwagon. In case you haven't heard of it or aren't very familiar with it, a kettlebell is a weight that is shaped like a cannonball with a very thick handle attached to the top. This interesting-looking weight has been used by Russian weightlifters for a few hundred years, but they are just catching on in the U.S. in no small part due to their ability to provide a total body workout.
While regular dumbbells and hand weights allow you to concentrate their weight in your fist, the shape of kettlebells means that the weight is suspended unevenly below your grip, requiring you to work your stabilizing muscles as well. The swing – a signature move – gives you both a cardiovascular and a full-body strength workout at the same time because it works every major muscle group in the body.
People are increasingly using kettlebells because they tone the body and fight fat: In just a 20- to 30-minute workout, you can burn around 300 calories!
Here are the top reasons to try this new exercise trend:
- You only need one kettlebell to do the workout. It's compact and easy to take with you if necessary.
- A kettlebell's weight is off-center, so your muscle have to work hard to balance it and go through a wide range of motions.
- You can use the kettlebell anywhere – even while watching TV at home.
- The workout lets you easily combine strength training and cardio.
- A kettlebell workout burns fat and builds lean muscle, rather than bulky muscle.
- You'll improve stability, strength and mobility.
- These exercises are a form of high-intensity interval training, which is good for building resistance and stamina.
- The workout is not repetitive and boring, as weight training and cardio machines can be.
Indoor kettlebell workout
While some of the moves are pretty extreme, it is still possible to do a kettlebell workout indoors during the winter. In fact, winter is probably the best time to do a kettlebell workout as it's pretty hard to will yourself to run or do other outdoor sports in below-freezing temps. Thankfully, you can purchase soft versions of these bowling ball-like weights that are safer to use indoors.
Here is an indoor circuit workout for beginners. Do 10 to 15 reps of each workout to complete a circuit, and then do a second circuit to complete your workout.
- Around-the-body: This is a great starter position. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and the kettlebell in both hands. Move the kettlebell to your left hand, bring both hands behind you and pass it to the right hand. Do this again in the front to complete one rep. Switch directions halfway through your reps and make sure to keep your hips still and your core engaged the entire time.
- Swing: Holding the kettlebell with both hands, squat so your thighs are parallel to the floor and the kettlebell is between them. Then stand quickly and swing the weight up to shoulder height. When the kettleball starts coming down, bend and squat again, swinging it between your legs. Make sure to control the weight's movement. You can try the same exercise with one arm at a time.
- Front squat: Do a standard squat. Beginners can hold the weight underneath, rather than by the handle. Don't forget to keep your back straight and chest up!
- Dead lift: Put the weight on the floor between your feet, which should be hip-width apart. Squat and grab the handle, squeeze your glutes, brace your abs, keep your back flat and stand slowly. Make sure to keep your arms extended.
- Figure-eight: With feet shoulder-width apart, squat halfway with your knees soft, keep your chest high, back straight and core tight and pass the kettlebell through your legs from front to back, bringing it from hand-to-hand in a figure eight movement.
Many people get their pre- or post-workout boosts from a drink mixed with protein powder for quick muscle repair and the building of lean muscle mass. If you're one of these people, it's likely that you use either whey or soy protein powders – two of the most popular types. Here's some information about each one to help you determine if whey, soy or some other protein powder like that made from split yellow peas is better for you:
Whey is one of two proteins derived from animals' milk; the other is casein. Whey protein is often used in milk-replacement foods, infant formula and ice cream, among other foods.
Whey is a fast-acting protein, meaning the body absorbs it quickly, which is why it is such a popular choice for supplements. While a glass of milk provides enough whey protein for the average person, those who want to build muscle or have other fitness goals often like to supplement their diets with a whey protein shake or meal replacement like Naturade 100% Whey™, which provides 16 grams of protein per serving, with only 1 gram of fat and 80 calories. Additionally, it contains no artificial sweeteners, flavors, preservatives or colors, and it contains a full array of essential amino acids.
Aside from the muscle-building benefits of whey proteins, some research has pointed to whey's possible benefits for:
- serving as a nutritional supplement.
- preventing some types of allergies.
- treating some symptoms of diabetes.
- suppressing the appetite.
- supporting a weight loss program.
While whey is important in repairing muscle damage from an intense workout, some people claim that this means that whey is not as efficient in building new muscle because it works too quickly. Though whey protein is very beneficial, whether you use it or not also depends on your fitness goals.
Soy protein is derived from soy beans and contains all the essential amino acids and is a complete protein, just as whey is. It is added to various food products today – it's in anything from frozen waffles to organic granola bars. Soy contains arginine, which helps muscle formation. However, soy takes a much longer time to digest than whey protein. Thus, it's less beneficial for repairing and rebuilding muscle after a workout, but it does a better job of forming new muscle.
Vegan or vegetarian athletes often choose a protein powder made from soy, such as Naturade Total Soy, as they contain no animal products. Naturade Total Soy contains 13 grams of protein per serving, and it is lactose-, gluten-, and GMO-free.
Aside from aiding in new muscle development, soy protein can:
- reduce LDL – or bad – cholesterol, which can lower one's total blood cholesterol levels. This can reduce one's risk of heart disease.
- make other foods more efficient because of its amino acid profile.
- potentially reduce the risk of certain types of cancer.
So, which is best? Experts seem to agree that using whey and soy proteins in combination or alternately is beneficial, though you should use whichever suits your dietary needs and restrictions as well as your fitness goals.